South Africa head coach Stuart Baxter has insisted that 2018 World Cup participants Nigeria and Senegal were not better than his side during the qualifying series
Bafana Bafana’s slim hopes of qualifying for their first World Cup appearance since hosting the global fiesta in 2010 were extinguished by the Teranga Lions in Polokwane on Friday night.
Diafra Sakho put the Teranga Lions ahead when he latched onto a brilliant Sadio Mane pass on 12 minutes before an unfortunate own goal by Thamsanqa Mhize seven minutes to the break gave the Senegalese a 2-0 lead.
With the Teranga Lions assured of a place in next summer’s World Cup, Bafana coach Stuart Baxter insists his side will still give their best in both side’s meeting again next Tuesday in Dakar.
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“I will check the log and see if we have any chance of improving (on the team’s position), then we will go out to win. There certainly will not be a lack of effort from the lads. They gave their all tonight and many of them deserve better,” said Baxter after Friday’s game.
Baxter was only appointed to take charge of the team in May and his team pulled off a shock win over Nigeria in Nations Cup qualifying in June. Baxter is proud of what he has done so far with his team and he insists World Cup representatives Senegal and Nigeria are not better than his side.
“Look at the teams on the road to Russia, are they better than us?” asked Baxter rhetorically. “Maybe I’m blue-eyed but I don’t think these (Senegal) or Nigeria are better than us. They have yes bigger household names but I do think that with the right sort of application for players and cooperation of everyone in South Africa, we can keep moving forward,” added Baxter.
Curtains will fall on Group D next Tuesday when South Africa travel to Senegal and Burkina Faso host Cape Verde.